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Top 5 fixtures to watch in I-League 2018-19

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The league will be comprised of 11 teams this term with debutants Real Kashmir joining in from the Valley.

The Indian football season has been up and running with the start of the Indian Super League and soon the I-League is set to commence later in October. This season the league will see a blend of different communities and diversity in Indian football, with Real Kashmir joining the top flight and with the AIFF allowing Churchill Brothers to remain in the league and bringing back the flavour of Goan football to India's top flight.

 So, Khel Now brings you the top five most-awaited fixtures to look out for this season:

5. Aizawl FC Vs NEROCA FC

Football is the staple sport in the Northeast and both these clubs are a testament to that fact. Aizawl FC had scripted a story that will never be forgotten in Indian football by winning the title two seasons ago, while NEROCA only won promotion to the top flight last campaign and have seen the highest turnout and also shocked everyone by finishing as runners-up last term.

The NorthEast Derby pulled many spectators last season

Both Aizawl and NEROCA are clubs with a huge fan-following and both are great representatives of the immense passion that is there in their respective states.

So, a clash between the two sides from the Northeast will be something that the spectators will eagerly wait for.

4. Chennai City FC Vs Gokulam Kerala FC

The two South Indian teams present in the I-League are Chennai City and Gokulam Kerala and the clash between the two will be a matter of bragging rights. Chennai will be under the guidance of new coach Akbar Nawas, whereas Gokulam, after sacking their new coach Fernando Valera have appointed Bino George as the interim head coach of the side.

Both the sides had a disappointing season last time out and will look to turn the tables in their favour in this edition. Considering last season's performances, both sides have made visible changes in their lineups and it will be a great spectacle for the viewers as the new foreigners will battle it out in the Southern Derby.

3. Real Kashmir FC Vs Minerva Punjab

This edition of the I-League is all about diversity and with that comes the first club from the Valley, Real Kashmir. The Snow Leopards will be representing the much-lauded scenic beauty of Kashmir and their people. So, the match between Real Kashmir and Minerva Punjab could turn out to be a feisty affair.

Real Kashmir, the side that defied all odds and won the I-League 2nd Division last season will be the first representative from Kashmir to feature in Indian football's top flight. So, it will be a learning curve and a new experience for coach David Robertson and his men. Minerva Punjab, on the other hand, will look to keep up their last season's performances and defend their title. The Warriors have had a lot of changes in their squad and it will be interesting to see how the new players including the foreigners fare for the reigning champions this season.


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2. East Bengal Vs Aizawl FC

The rivalry between East Bengal and Aizawl FC has lit up the league in recent years and was pretty fiery last time out, when the Red and Gold paid a visit to Aizawl. The fans never shy away from any banter, while the teams battle it out on the field.

With their new coach and high profile foreigners East Bengal look like a side to be reckoned with, whereas Aizawl have gone with a more conventional approach of picking up new but known foreigners, ie: players who have been in and around India for quite a while. It will be a feisty affair when these two sides will meet as it promises to be an intense bout on and off the field.

1. East Bengal Vs Mohun Bagan (Kolkata Derby)

Indian football's biggest fixture is the Kolkata Derby, otherwise also known as the Boro match. The rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan is very well-known, not only in India, but all over the world. Considered as one of Asia's biggest rivaalries, the match is not only a contest between the players on the field. It is a contest between dialects, food habits, communities, civilizations and different ideologies. There are innumerable stories where the passion and emotions of this fixture have taken an ugly turn but still, it is till date the most glorious fixture in Indian football.

The Kolkata Derby will again see Sony Norde returning to the city for the Mariners

The Red and Gold, under the tutelage of their new coach Alejandro Garcia will look for the last throw of the dice to win the league. Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, have problems of their own, even though the Green and Maroons are fresh from their CFL triumph after a long drought. Coach Sankarlal Chakraborty seems to have imposed a great possessional gameplay for the Mariners and the gaffer has also promoted young talents like Sourav Das and Pintu Mahata to first-team action.

In spite of all the problems revolving around the Kolkata giants, the clash between these two rivals will be an epic encounter and something Indian football fanatics wait for every year.

Published: Sat Oct 13, 2018 07:43 PM IST

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